May 15, 2011
What a Trip
Last week, I had the profound and fortunate pleasure to escape to Mexico with my husband to celebrate our fifteenth anniversary. Due to the grace of my mother, my father-in-law, and our babysitter, Jeff and I were able to loll around in the sun for five consecutive days, where my most difficult decision daily was when I could start imbibing the “pretty drinks” and not fall asleep by 8 PM. We happily divided our time between beach and pool, napped, and people-watched for hours. I ignored my emails, and the only time I thought about the words “Face” or “Book” was when searching for the lovely countenance of the man bringing me my next “Mango Loco”, or while reading Bossypants by Tina Fey, our comedic national treasure.
For almost a whole week I was technologically Amish. It was bliss.
We planned every detail of the trip for months, remembering to clear our schedules several days prior to boarding that godsend of a plane because we’ve noticed over the years that something, or several somethings, always conspires to occur just before we leave. One time just days before one of our fairly frequent trips to Vegas to stay with friends, Jeff took a tumble down the stairs and broke his foot, which put a severe damper on our disco nights. The following year, Justin came down with a severe rash all over his body that turned out to be “hand, foot and mouth” disease (I actually looked at his pediatrician and asked her if she was making the diagnosis up just to mess with me), and for the next seventy-two hours we watched anxiously to see if several hundred red bumps would do us the honor of disappearing.
Ironically, this time around everyone was healthy, but it seemed as if the gods were conspiring against us anyway. Jeff got a flat tire while trying to cram in food shopping the day before our departure. We finally realized that funny odor in the pantry was mouse droppings, and my brave husband dedicated four hours on Sunday trying desperately to eradicate that succulent smell before we left. I went to bed before the glorious news of Osama bin Laden’s death, but my husband spent most of the night wondering if we would still be able to depart. We were, and we did.
And I admit, it was fabulous.
Of course, not every moment of the trip was perfect. I burned a quarter of a boob when my suit apparently “shifted” in direct sunlight (the only time I’ve gone topless was for five minutes in Greece in 1988, after which my Puritan ancestry kicked in and started screaming for me to “remember decency!”). The night we ate in the “French” restaurant our waiter proudly proclaimed our aperitif to be “chicken fingers with sauce”, and while my husband beamed with anticipation I heard the strangled cry of a million Frenchmen as they screamed “Non, c’est pas vrai!!!” Sadly, we once experienced three entire drops of rain one day as my groom and I walked along the mostly deserted beach together.
Yes, I’m just kidding with that last one.
I could tell you that this vacation we try to make every five years, as we attempt to celebrate the “fives” and “zeros” of our union, is important because we desperately need the time together away from our children just so we can breathe, and that would be true. I could impart to you my adamance this type of trip occurs at least twice a decade for us because I’m neither sure how long I’ll have the generosity of my mother’s help, nor certain if there will come a day before Jeff and I turn eighty that Justin will not be solely under our care. I could share with you that I simply appreciate the opportunity to sleep four nights a year.
Hell, I could tell you that sometimes, I just like some silence.
All of the above is true. But the real reason this vacation is so crucial to us is because it’s the one time of year we feel like we actually have choices in our daily routine, because with two children on the autism spectrum, our lives don’t leave us much opportunity for wiggle room. Honestly, for several days, we simply reveled in the welcome absence of rules, the constraints that autism often insinuates into our everyday existence. I didn’t have to plan seventy steps ahead of an outing to anticipate what might strip my chances of success while bringing Justin out into the community. I wasn’t forced to recall which spot on Zach’s favorite plate always welcomes the ketchup, or be faced with a tantrum of such inappropriate proportions I’d rue the day the condiment was invented. I didn’t have to think about how autism ordains Justin’s life, how it will ultimately result in his requiring lifetime care, half of which will transpire without me.
Frankly, for five days, the only rule was that I didn’t have to think.
I realize how lucky we were to have this opportunity. I am fortunate to have the luxury of a stable partner, the understanding of my father-in-law, the stamina of my mother. The word “gratitude” does not begin to convey how grateful I am for this confluence of circumstances, this perfect storm of luck that conspired to enable us this break from an often extremely stressful life. Trust me, most of the year my “downtime” is spent sitting in the car reading for fifteen minutes while I wait for one of my kids to get off his bus. It’s not always happy hour around here.
But for 120 blissful hours (not that I counted), it was. I just want to say thanks to everyone who made it happen, and for all who wished us well prior to departure. I’ve traveled to a number of countries at this point, and I have to say I’ve never encountered a people as genuinely warm as the residents of the Yucatan Peninsula, and I certainly hope to see them all again (especially the reincarnated Michael Jackson who performed for us, who knew the legend is actually alive, just living in Mexico?).
I’d like to add one final note to my husband, a man with whom despite the oft-insanity of our lives, I still enjoy spending time.
Love you, hon. See you in five years.